[Co-Parenting Matters] “Mommy, Do You Love Daddy?”

couple argument

Having open communication with my daughter about her father is a priority for me. For the majority of her life her parents have been separated and at eight she has lots of questions about why the two people she loves most in the world aren’t together, loving her together.

In a recent conversation about our co-parenting situation she got pretty emotional and wanted to know why we weren’t married and if I loved her Dad. It wasn’t a question I was at all prepared to answer, especially because he and I usually have a turbulent co-parenting relationship. At times I feel he does more harm than good to our daughter, and I feel the need to shelter her from him.

When she asked me I immediately thought about the times he let her down and his broken promises. I thought of all the times I hurried to clean up the pieces from his constant messes. Did I love him? Are you serious? Most days I loathed him. But, of course I couldn’t share this with my daughter who thought the world of her Daddy, who sometimes called on her birthday, sometimes reached out on holidays. How could I love a man who refuses to prioritize his daughter – regardless of the other children he had? How could I love a man who at the end of the day didn’t act like much of a man at all?

But of course I couldn’t share this with my daughter.

When I first laid eyes on my daughter I fell in love, and that feeling hasn’t changed. Every time I see her and spend time with her my heart grows and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. I cherish our time together and when I’m not with her I’m miserable. Our bond is incredible, and I’ve worked hard to ensure that she knows I’m always available for her and that she never has to question my love for her. It took me years to realize that her father didn’t share these same intense feelings about our daughter as I did. That he didn’t need to be around her every waking moment, like I did. It took me years to realize that we loved differently – but that didn’t mean he loved our daughter any less. It’s been so easy for me to focus on what I feel he does wrong as a parent. As a fatherless daughter I often think about the long term effects of his inconsistency. I worry and worry and worry.

I stared into my daughter’s inquiring face, a spitting image of her father, and said yes of course, of course I love Daddy. Because at the end of the day I know deep down he loves our daughter and would do anything for her, even though he isn’t around all the time. He will always have a special place in my heart even though we are often at each other’s necks in drama. When I see them together and I see how happy my daughter is in his presence I melt. I love him because my daughter loves him and cares about him and I am committed to her happiness. I love him because we created something absolutely magical together and no one else can ever take his place.

How do you handle questions from your children about their other parent?


  1. Very interesting perspective on co-parenting. I can relate.